Smoky Jalapeno Popper Mac and Cheese

21 reviews

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy.

This Jalapeno Popper Mac and Cheese is over the top delicious. Loaded with bacon, sausage, and extra cheese before getting a tender kiss of hardwood smoke. You may not know it yet, but this is your new favorite food. Your death-row last meal request. Are you ready for that kind of commitment? Well then, friend, read on.

Spoonful of cheesy jalapeno popper mac and cheese being lifted out of a cast iron skillet.

So What is Jalapeno Popper Mac and Cheese?

I think mac and cheese needs to be indulgent. It is comfort food, after all. So keep that in mind as you read the ingredients list, mmmmk? My favorite thing about this dish (in addition to the awesome flavor) is the ease of preparation. One skillet. No separate pot of hot water or additional baking dishes required. Everything is cooked together, even the noodles, which results in the creamiest mac & cheese to ever hit your tongue. The noodles absorb all of the flavor from the bacon, sausage, and jalapenos while it cooks. Every bite is equally as delicious as the one before.

After spending a couple of years perfecting the Stuffed Jalapeno Popper, I knew it was time to take those flavors and  put it in a pasta! I think it is pretty standard to throw some cream cheese in a jalapeno, wrap it in bacon, and call it a jalapeno popper. Alas, simplicity was never my strong suit. I took the base flavors and went a little off course and drove that flavor train into meat depot. I added browned bratwursts, melty cheese, and topped the whole thing with my signature Sweet Rub. They are the best poppers ever, and now all the flavors I love are all floating around in every bite of this Jalapeno Popper Mac and Cheese.

Macaroni and cheese topped with cracker crumbs and jalapeno slices in a cast iron skillet

Jalapeno Popper Mac and Cheese Ingredients

This mac and cheese has a few more ingredients than just noodles, cheese, and milk. Here’s what you’ll need to assemble to make these mac and cheese dreams a reality. There are a few ingredients, but this is a fully loaded mac and cheese. Making it is definitely easier with your ingredients pulled together before you start cooking. Full quantities are in the recipe card below.

  • Bacon
  • Uncooked bratwursts
  • Jalapenos
  • Cream cheese
  • Macaroni noodles
  • Milk
  • Cream
  • Garlic powder
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Butter crackers (think Ritz)
  • BBQ Seasoning (I recommend my Signature Sweet Rub that you can either MAKE or BUY)

What Makes this Mac and Cheese Smoky?

The real secret to this mac and cheese is baking it in your smoker. Just 30 minutes at 225 degrees F is enough to give your mac and cheese that classic baked texture and the perfect kiss of smoky flavor. It’ll taste like you’re eating a jalapeno popper straight off the grill, with a healthy dose of carbs. This recipe also finishes cooking at a high heat, which makes it perfect for cooking on a pellet smoker that adjusts heat quickly. 

If you don’t have a smoker, and you still want a bit of smoky flavor in your mac & cheese, buy apple or hickory smoked bacon to use in the recipe! You can follow the rest of the instructions, just skip the smoking step and bake at the same temperature in your oven instead of on your grill. 

Final note before you jump in and fulfill all of your wildest food fantasies, mac and cheese is always about preference! My husband likes his mac and cheese extra saucy, so I always add in an extra quarter to a half cup of milk after the noodles are cooked. I like my mac and cheese baked and a little more set up, so I cook following the recipe as written.

Smoked macaroni and cheese topped with toasted cracker crumbs and sliced jalapenos in a cast iron skillet

More Smoky Mac and Cheese Recipes

I think a good plate of BBQ is perfectly rounded out by a tasty mac and cheese recipe. These mac and cheese masterpieces are sure to inspire you the next time you’re looking for a tasty BBQ side dish:

Smoked Mac and Cheese
Smoked Gouda Mac and Cheese
Bacon Mac and Cheese
Deep Fried Mac and Cheese Bombs (stuffed with smoked pulled pork!)

Jalapeno Popper Mac and Cheese Recipe

Want to save this recipe?
Just enter your email and get it sent to your inbox! Plus you'll get the latest from Hey Grill Hey every week!
Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

Smoky Jalapeno Popper Mac and Cheese

By: Susie Bulloch
5 from 21 votes
This Jalapeno Popper Mac and Cheese is over the top delicious. Loaded with bacon, sausage, and extra cheese before getting a tender kiss of hardwood smoke.
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time45 minutes
Total Time1 hour 5 minutes
Servings6 people




  • 1/2 pound bacon diced
  • 1 link uncooked bratwurst casing removed
  • 2 jalapenos seeds removed and finely diced
  • 1 8 oz brick cream cheese
  • 8 oz uncooked elbow macaroni noodles
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 cups marbled cheddar shredded
  • 1/4 cup butter crackers (like Ritz) crushed
  • 1 jalapeno thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon Hey Grill Hey Signature Sweet Rub


  • Preheat your smoker to 225 degrees F with a mild hard wood like pecan or maple.
  • Preheat a 12 inch cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Brown the bacon and sausage. Stir in the diced jalapenos and cook 2-3 minutes, until softened.
  • Stir in the cream cheese and mix until well combined. Pour in the noodles, water, milk, and cream. Cook, stirring regularly, until the noodles have absorbed a majority of the liquid (about 8-10 minutes).
  • Turn off the heat and carefully stir in the garlic powder, salt, pepper, and cheese until everything is all melted together. Sprinkle the top with the sweet rub, the buttered crackers, and the thin jalapeno slices.
  • Place the mac and cheese in the smoker and smoke for 30 minutes. Either transfer your mac and cheese to a 400 degree F oven or increase your grill temperature to 400 degrees. Bake for 8-10 minutes at the higher temperature until the crackers are starting to brown.
  • Remove the mac and cheese from the grill and serve.


Calories: 678kcal | Carbohydrates: 36g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 49g | Saturated Fat: 25g | Cholesterol: 134mg | Sodium: 1052mg | Potassium: 346mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 1137IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 369mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Like this? Leave a comment below!

**This post was originally published on 1/25/2017. It has since been updated with more information, a video, and new photos, but the recipe remains the same.**



Susie is the BBQ Brain behind the Hey Grill Hey website. Her passion for smoked meats and developing fun, new recipes have landed her on the Food Network, cooking turkeys with Shaq, and on a couple of Guinness World Records. When she’s not grilling, she is hanging out with Todd and their three kids, preferably outdoors!

Related Recipes

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating

Reader Reviews

51 Reviews



  2. Eric says:

    This looks great; can’t wait to try it. Do you include the ramp time to go from 225 to 400 in the 10 minutes? Or do you pull the Mac and cheese out, wait for the WW to hit 400 and then put it back in for 10. I have a WW24 and I think I’d probably only get a few minutes at 400 based on the time it takes to ramp up. Thanks!

    1. Hey Grill Hey says:

      I pull mine out, but you could do it either way! Just shorten the time at 400.

  3. Art Flores says:

    I’m not a Mac n Cheese person until I made this ! Great recipe Susie!! Can I make this ahead of time and smoke it later?

    1. Hey Grill Hey says:


  4. Tim Nicholson says:

    Fantastic as is. I will make a few tweaks to make it “my own” but other than that, perfect.

  5. Greg says:

    Mac and cheese has always just been okay to me. I doubled the diced Jalapenos and made this. It is a favorite for me now and I love this M

  6. Sona says:

    This is by far our favorite Mac and Cheese recipe and is always a hit with all our guests!!

  7. Zo says:

    This recipe was amazing ! I added more bacon and a little bit of spicy sausage for my own liking but it was all out fantastic!

  8. Kevin Simmers says:

    I kinda want to try this but instead of ritz, crushed hot cheetos